Has copyright holder litigation made a farce of copyright laws?

It’s #copyrightweek. Here’s some interesting material to help you decide:

Planet Money podcast “…bring[s] you an economist who set out to test a core political conviction. [Talks] to a novelist who came face-to-face with the shaky foundations of his ideas about copyright. ”

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/06/23/534132561/episode-780-on-second-thought

And an insightful email from OpenMedia:

Hi <name>,

Since the 1700s, a form of copyright law has ensured creators could profit from their original work before it passed into the public domain. In the 20th century that began to change, as ‘rights holders’ more aggressively expanded the scope of these laws, profiting handsomely – often at the expense of the creators – and turning aggressive litigation, with tenuous connection to original work, into just another revenue stream.

Copyright law has now been captured by major media interests all over the world. That’s why digital rights organisations in Brazil, Pakistan, Canada and Austria all fight to make it better for everyone: accessible and open, not just owned by a few huge corporations.

Every year we see the absurd lengths corporate giants will go to to maintain this power:

A video of 5 hours of white noise has 5 different copyright take-down claims under YouTube’s ContentID system.1(that’s the system European decision makers want to expand to all user generated sites.)

Tractor owners have a black market in manuals because John Deere forbids farmers from fixing or tinkering with the expensive machinery that they have actually paid for.2

The European Commission buried research that proved links are actually good for the spread of news and information, because that was not what they wanted to hear when trying to sell their Link Tax.3

This week is Copyright Week, a global event bringing these groups together to plan what we will do to overhaul copyright laws, so they have a positive impact on our rights and on creativity once more rather than more of the stories we see above.

Just like us at OpenMedia, these organisations depend on their communities to make a difference.

You can share the ways you’ve made a difference on these issues using #copyrightweek.

I know our global community has had some great victories, like when Canadians spoke up to make sure that the dangerous Intellectual Property chapter from the Trans Pacific Partnership was dropped. The secretive trade agreement would have introduced strict punishments for infringement, even longer copyright terms and a global ‘notice and takedown’, leading to vast amounts of lost content online.

The most inspirational moment of last year for me was watching hundreds of people calling their MEPs about the Link Tax and against Censorship Machines, huge changes to how the web works that would limit free expression in the name of copyright enforcement for media giants. Key decision makers have heard those calls and put the upcoming vote on hold to come up with a better version, one that we hope won’t undermine our freedom of expression.

Copyright is currently used to deny people Internet access,4 to demand take-downs of original content,5 to deny people access to content based on where they live,6 and to silence the very fan communities that make or break pop culture.7 You can share your stories and read more about how these issues impact libraries, engineers, schools, universities, and artists by following #copyrightweek.

Thanks,

Ruth

Footnotes
[1] White noise take down video. Source: BoingBoing
[2] Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware: MotherBoard
[3] Commission to scientists: Stop ruining our copyright plans with your facts and your research! Source: Julia Reda
[4] ‘Radical and overreaching’: Bell wants Canadians blocked from piracy websites: CBC News
[5] When I want to teach, but can’t thanks to Universal Music Group. Source: Adam Neely
[6] The reasons why geo-blocking must be stopped. Source: TechRadar
[7] Despite the certainty of takedowns, fan developers still pursue Nintendo’s works: Polygon

Jan 24, 2018 – Update

<Name>,

As you may have seen, yesterday Canada joined 10 other countries in signing onto a reworked version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).1,2

In a big win for the Internet, the new agreement suspends many of the controversial provisions included in previous versions, including the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter and ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) rules.3 These suspensions are not a coincidence — these were among the top concerns raised in over 18,000 emails sent to the government on behalf of concerned Canadians.4

This is all because of you, our community! The overwhelming majority of these submissions came from the OpenMedia community, using our Let’s Talk TPP tool.5 The Minister of International Trade, François-Philippe Champagne noted the influence of public feedback with regards to the IP chapter in the new version of the TPP.6

The improvements in the new TPP are a testament to all these years of pressure and relentless work. We never backed down, kept up the pressure, and finally the government listened.

However, even with these improvements, the CPTPP — and especially the process through which it was negotiated — is still deeply flawed. Discussions continue to be held behind closed doors, with little information available to the public.

Despite how far we’ve come, there’s still much to do. This week marks the 6th round of negotiations in NAFTA — yet another trade agreement where our digital rights are still at risk, and our government continues to negotiate in secret without the transparency we were promised.7

So we’ll still be here, working to make sure that the government is held accountable to its citizens, and does not ignore our digital rights. We need you to stand with us as we continue to demand transparency and accountability from the government, in the final stages of the TPP, the upcoming NAFTA agreement, and all ongoing trade negotiations.

These negotiations are supposed to benefit us all, and thanks to your efforts, we are much closer to that than we might have expected.

Everything you’ve done so far has led us here, so I want to say thank you, Trevor. It’s a big win in what has been a long and notoriously closed process.

Onwards,

Marie, on behalf of the OpenMedia team

P.S.: Our advocacy work against closed-door agreements like the TPP and NAFTA is kept alive with donations from supporters like you. If you can chip in $5 today, we would greatly appreciate your support!

Footnotes

[1]  Consolidated TPP Text: Government of Canada

[2] Canada reaches deal on revised Trans-Pacific Partnership: CBC

[3] Annex II – List of Suspended Provisions: Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

[4] When Consultations Count: Why the TPP is a Reminder of the Value of Speaking Out: Michael Geist

[5] Let’s Talk TPP: OpenMedia

[6] Statement by Minister of International Trade on successful conclusion of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership: Global Affairs Canada

[7] Trade secrets damage the credibility of NAFTA negotiations: The Globe and Mail

Review of “7 Workplace Myths Disproven By Research”

Anybody who has had a long enough career already knows about some of these workplace myths disproven by research. The reality?

  • Remote workers are 13% more productive (9.5% attributable to no commute/more working hours),
  • Most productive people take ~15 min break per hour of work,
  • Engagement level doesn’t lead to results,
  • Being recognized for your work matters more than money,
  • High-achievers make great managers,
  • You don’t do what you went to college for and;
  • Do what makes a difference in other people’s lives (*don’t* do what you love unless you like being broke).

http://www.octanner.com/insights/infographics/7-workplace-myths-disproven-by-research.html

Smartphone is a Double Edged Sword

Since 2004 there has been very little *meaningful* change. Productivity has fallen despite the smartphone. You might be wondering why this info on the smartphone all of a sudden? I’ve received a critical mass of research. I believe that it is telling us that the smartphone is a double edged sword and we need to respect that.

Planet Money explains our period of falling productivity: http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2017/05/19/529178937/episode-772-small-change

This article explains the psychology of the smartphone and how it has made us less intelligent and is responsible for poor social skills and the gullibility crisis:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-smartphones-hijack-our-minds-1507307811

However, it could be that it takes humanity 50 years to adopt the changes enabled by the smartphone. Take the story of electricity. It took nearly 50 years from the light bulb before the economy showed a productivity spike. More on this via the history of the dynamo: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p057xsl0

 

CR publishes much needed “Myths and Facts About Vaccines for Children”

https://www.consumerreports.org/vaccines/myths-and-facts-about-vaccines-for-children/

And the economics of vaccines – 20% IRR and 2 million deaths averted for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) – a multi-organizational collaboration lasting 15-years worth $13B:

http://www.economist.com/node/5017166

Vaccinations are a case study of “The Tragedy of the Commons” – where anti-vaxxers become free-riders putting their self-interest over the common good. The Hastings Center explains this problem very well:

“…To understand why, think of vaccination and the quest for herd immunity as a collective action problem. Garrett Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” illustrates the basic logic of collective action problems. Imagine that 50 farmers share common land (“the commons”) upon which they graze their sheep. The commons are lush, and so each farmer can easily allow four sheep to graze at a given time without depleting the resource. But imagine that each farmer seeks to maximize his own good (what economic theory refers to as “rational” behavior) and it is better for him to graze more sheep than fewer. The farmers will, in effect, be “free-riding” – in this case, taking more than their fair share of the common resource while benefitting from the restraint of others. The trouble is that, while adding one more sheep to the commons does not deplete the resource, adding 50 does. The combined actions of each farmer, acting rationally, leads to an outcome that is worse for all.

The tragedy of the commons reveals that what is good for the individual is at odds with what is good for all. This is the basic logic of collective action problems. We see a similar logic in the case of vaccines. If most get vaccinated, then everyone will be better off. But it would be best for any particular individual if all others got vaccinated and he or she did not. That way, the individual could enjoy the benefits of the common good (herd immunity) without bearing any of the costs (e.g., risk of possible side effects or complications associated with vaccine). This, again, is a free-rider temptation. The trouble is that if everyone thought that way, no one would become vaccinated and everyone would be at risk of falling ill.

From this perspective, anti-vaxxers are not ill-informed parents with distorted views of what is in their child’s best interest. They are acting perfectly rationally. The trouble is that there are enough of them to generate the tragedy of the commons. Hence, vaccination levels drop and measles rates rise.  …”

Measles, Vaccination, and the Tragedy of the Commons

Review of “The Dark Side of Resilience”

In another one of life’s ironies, somebody could label you “not resilient” when in fact you might be “too resilient”. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Derek Lusk’s insightful article on “The Dark Side of Resilience” highlights another humbling highlight of our collective human ignorance. Indeed, everyone should be aware of this reminder of a dangerous psychological bias.

Key quotes that resonated with me from the article:

” …[E]xtreme resilience could drive people to become overly persistent with unattainable goals. Although we tend to celebrate individuals who aim high or dream big, it is usually more effective to adjust one’s goals to more achievable levels, which means giving up on others….[P]eople waste an enormous amount of time persisting with unrealistic goals, a phenomenon called the “false hope syndrome.”

…[T]oo much resilience could make people overly tolerant of adversity. At work, this can translate into putting up with boring or demoralizing jobs — and particularly bad bosses — for longer than needed.

…[The goal is to compete between groups not within the team, so,] …choosing resilient leaders is not enough: they must also have integrity and care more about the welfare of their teams than their own personal success.

In sum, there is no doubt that resilience is a useful and highly adaptive trait, especially in the face of traumatic events. However, when taken too far, it may focus individuals on impossible goals and make them unnecessarily tolerant of unpleasant or counterproductive circumstances. This reminds us of Voltaire’s Candide, the sarcastic masterpiece that exposes the absurd consequences of extreme optimism: ‘I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?’”